Employment rate of N.K. defectors drops 3.8 pct points last year amid pandemic: ministry
SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- The employment rate of North Korean defectors in South Korea fell 3.8 percentage points last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the unification ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry released the latest data in a new master plan on settlement support for North Korea defectors for 2021-2023 and the implementation plan for this year.
The employment rate of North Korean defectors last year was 54.4 percent, down from the previous year's 58.2 percent, behind that of South Korean-born citizens (60.4 percent).
"This is attributable to job losses and a decrease in economic activities due to COVID-19," the ministry said in the report.
North Korean defectors appear to be hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic, a ministry official said, pointing out that the employment rate of South Korean-born citizens last year decreased by only 1 percentage point.
In its three-year master plan, the unification ministry laid out 24 tasks to assist defectors, including strengthening psychological support programs and building a new center with the police and other ministries to reach out to vulnerable defectors at risk of sexual violence, suicide and others.
The ministry also plans to expand one-on-one "customized" counseling services for defectors to help them find jobs in cooperation with the labor ministry.
The unification ministry drafts a master plan to help North Korean defectors settle into the society every three years.
Currently, about 33,500 North Korean defectors are living in South Korea.
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